Digital India

At present, there are about 30 million cellphones and 10 million computers in India. In 2004, cellphones will outsell PCs by a factor of 10:1 — there will be about 30 million cellphones sold to 3 million PCs. So, a year from now, we will have 13 million computer users and 60 million cellphone users.

The disruption in this can come from the following: what if computers were available at Rs 500-700 per month for hardware, software and support, and about Rs 1,000 per month including always-on narrowband connectivity. How would the numbers then be different? My estimate is that if computers came at the business model of cellphones, we could do 100 million in the next 5 years, starting with a doubling of the 3 million figure for 2004.

India needs affordable computers to be available. Reducing duties to bring prices down by 10% does not really make them affordable. What we need is a disruption to bring pricing down by 50-70%. This is what affordability is all about. And it needs a completely different way to think about computing.

Imagine where affordable computers can be deployed:
– 40 million Indian homes in urban and semi-urban India
– 10 million in 1 million schools
– 10 million in 100,000 colleges
– 30 million in 3 million SMEs
– 5 million in 5000 hubs in rural India
– 5 million in government

Now, re-imagine a new India: with 100 million computers, 300 million cellphones, an always-on broadband infrastructure. This can happen in less than 5 years. Nice? Wait! What will people do online? There is another piece of the puzzle that is missing: content and software applications which will leverage the emerging landscape. This is where India needs entrepreneurs and funding – like the one that didn’t happen in 2000.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.